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Eastern Europe games from 90s-00s

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I think this is the best source material for the Game Dungeon lol. Games with interesting concepts, local flavor, which sometimes fail to fully fulfill their concept, had a weird approach, bugs, or contrary, interesting unexpected things. A bunch of them already get popularised or reviewed by other YouTubers with similar scope, some others like this Wolfhound game already had video from Ross himself. But there a number of games which I not yet seen much on the English internet.


(I found out that Venom in the Game List only after posting this, My bad)

Venom: Codename: Outbreak (this game had a lot of title variants in the local market and on the west, like just "Venom" or just "Codename: Outbreak", but this is how it sold currently on GoG, with full title). One of the early games from the Ukraine studio GSC, later developers of the famous S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. A lot of stuff, including more early engine, style design elements, etc. will be a bit familiar for people who know about early stalker builds. This game is different however, this is a science fiction mission-based FPS game where you in a team of 2 people should pass levels. There is a stealth element, also a cooperative regime for most of the game tasks. An interesting feature is that instead of an arsenal of weapons, your character only has one, but it can "transform" in different modes.

 

FireStarter is another, more late GSC game which is a fast arcade shooter. Premises are very simple: you are trapped in virtual reality infected with a virus, now you need to get out from here. The game feels a bit like "horde shooter" and a bit like multiplayer Quake3-style arcade FPS games, just made with a more limited budget. I think that the most interesting thing here is that you can choose between player classes, increase their stats and one of the characters is a 4-armed mutant and yes you can have 4 machineguns in each arm.

 

Xenus: Boiling Point (confusingly known at world market as "Boiling Point: Road to Hell") and Xenus II White Gold from Ukraine developer Deep Shadows (this studio was founded by one of the main developers of Venom after he left GSC)  The concept of the games may be described as something among lines of "modern FarCry before FarCry become modern with bits of GTA". These games are FPS with open exploration, vehicles, and driving, factions, RPG elements such as perk system, and optional side missions and events. After these two games same developers did The Precursors - in some ways similar game, mission based shooter with opotional stuff and driving, but now set in futuristic science fiction space sseting.

 

I will continue in the next post.

 

Screenshots:
1.Venom
2.FireStarter
3.Xenus 2
4.Xenus 2 perks and inventory

5.Precursors

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Edited by ultrayoba (see edit history)

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Legend of the North: Konung (As usual, this game received a number of different titles in different countries. At home, it was called "Князь: Легенды лесной страны" - "Knyaz: Legends of country of forest" if make a direct translation. Knyaz is title of ruler from ancient Rus, what in the west sources was translated as "Prince". So like Kievan principaty was "Knazhestvo Kievskoe", or, "Kievan Knyazdom")

This is an isometric RPG game from 1C/Snowball Interactive. At least wikipedia claims that it was made on famous Infinity Engine (Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment) but I'm not shure about that. The game plot is that you need to combine the amulet and can start as one of 3 characters: Slav, Viking, or Byzantine, which have a different appearances and starting points. During your adventure you are assembeling a party of characters and there is number of strategy elements with managing your town. The game has 2 sequels Konung 2: Blood of Titans and Konung III: Ties of the Dynasty. Second was made on same engine, third is in 3d.

 

King's Bounty series. The original 1990 King's Bounty was one of the games made by the New World Computing, creators of the Might and Magic CRPG series. This was a puzzle-adventure with army-tactical combat which leed later to the famous spin-off series of the Might and Magic franchise: Heroes of Might and Magic. Later, NWC died after falling of 3DO, the publisher that owned them since 1996, and their IPs were lost to Ubisoft or other companies. 1C got King's Bounty, this game, in general, was famous in former USSR countries and spawned an unofficial sequel from some Kharkiv programmer in the early 90s. Then, under 1c, Katauri Interactive (studio created in Vladivostok by former Elemental Games employes, the studio that made kind of famous Space Rangers series) worked on a game with a similar concept and borrowed an already known title for it. This sub-series consists of the main game and standalone addons/full games. King's Bounty The Legend ("the Legend about Knight" - original Russian subtitle) and King's Bounty Armored Princess (full version with additional expansion known as Crossworlds) was made by Katauri. Then, alongside another ambitious project, they made Warrior of the North (+Fire and Ice addon) and the studio closed after it. The final game in this sub-series, DarkSide, was made by other people.

These games are story-driven RPGs set in an open world, where you can play a character from one of 3 classes with a different appearances (3 different characters in Dark Side). Your main hero has stats, perks, magic, inventory, and also additional super-special abilities which he can upgrade (super special abilities in the first game is the "Box of Fury", in second your personal Dragon, etc.) Combat in this game is alike the original game or HoMM, where you are carrying an army with you and there are enemy armies and heroes lurking around the land. Unlike heroes, they are not static and patroling area, following you or run from you.

Currently in development King's Bounty 2 - but this is not a direct sequel to original or this sub-series. It is more like other 1С game, Ascension to the Throne. Here it is a third person RPG with tactical combat, made in more serious fantasy style rather than fairy tale of the previous sub-series.

 

Etherlords 1 and 2 (Демиурги 1-2 at home country) are a mix of the HoMM-like maps and movement with tactical based combat with cards. Made by Nival, one of the more known Russian developer studios, who actually, besides other stuff, made actual Heroes of Might and Magic V under Ubisoft. Instead of an army in Etherlords, you have the deck of cards and you use them in combat to summon stuff, cast spells, etc. To obtain new cards you need to explore maps and buy them for resources.

 

Screenshots:

1.King's Bounty sub-series, explaration and inventory

2.Etherlords 2

3.Konung 1, 2 and 3

4.King's Bounty sub-series, examples of combat

 

 

 

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Edited by ultrayoba (see edit history)

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I did play through much of "Boiling Point - Road to Hell" (Xenus) a while back and did rather like it. Nice quirky atmosphere, especially because of the weird people. The shooting was nicely tactical and deadly. I did also like the faction system and the way the balance shifted and how that influenced how you played the game. Unfortunately the story can only be advanced by throwing ungodly sums of money at people repeatedly. At first I liked it, but it never stops, so I stopped playing instead. But I put about 20 hours into it and I definitely enjoyed most of it.

 

And Precursors more recently. Liked it for some of the same reasons (charming people, atmosphere), but other aspects seemed weaker. Specifically the less tactical shooting and the less complex faction system. But the atmosphere in Tamerheim and on Goldin was surprisingly strong. Obviously subjective but I really liked the mix of the music and the russian language and the charming people. Though in that regard I think it's worth pointing out that Boiling Points english voice-acting managed to retain that charm, so it's not just the language.

Edited by BurningSheep (see edit history)

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This game was pretty decent. "Eurojank Splinter Cell," made on the Mafia engine if I recall. Here's a review on it. I have a copy of the game that's been translated from Polish (didn't notice any glaring translation errors while playing). However I heard that the game has Starforce, and it can mess up Windows 10 PCs if you're not careful (I think the copy I have is pre-patched to avoid that).

 

 

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I fondly remember "Hard to be a God" by Akela, released in 2007, based on the Strugazky brothers' novella. Not only am I a fan of the source material, the game also fell in my favourite categorie of games that are kind of bad but charming and unique. It's a top down action RPG set in the future but on a planet that is currently in the renaissance/early modern era. The thing is, that it starts with the aftermath of what happened in the book. If you haven't read it, the game spoils the ending (which is kind of a big thing), but the proceedings of the game would be much more suprising for you - if the press releases and trailers hadn't spoiled it beforehand. 

It had a more or less half-assed system where you had to combine certain parts of clothing and armour to pose as people from different factions. The fighting system was interesting, with a lot of force behind the weapons, but it was buggy and tough as nails. The graphics, as with everything from Akela, were dated, both ugly and nice.

 

There was also "Galactic Assault: Prisoner of Power" by Wargaming.net, also from 2007, also based on a novella by the famous Russian brothers. It's a turn based strategy game set in the same universe (Noon Universe) as "Hard to be a God". However, this time the planet is somewhere in a dystopian atomic age, with several totalitarian states warring against each other. Again, the story takes place some time after the novel, this time it plays out events that are hinted on in later books of the Noon Universe. However, if you haven't read "The Inhabited Island" (or seen the 2008 movie) you won't understand anything from the story. Not that it matters, as it is only told with voiceovers by bored actors.

However, it's a very solid strategy game and I started playing it again recently as it's on GOG now. Even the early missions can be very though. 

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Xenus: Boiling Point (confusingly known at world market as "Boiling Point: Road to Hell") and Xenus II White Gold from Ukraine developer Deep Shadows (this studio was founded by one of the main developers of Venom after he left GSC)  The concept of the games may be described as something among lines of "modern FarCry before FarCry become modern with bits of GTA". These games are FPS with open exploration, vehicles, and driving, factions, RPG elements such as perk system, and optional side missions and events

Man, that was a buggy mess. I bought it back in the day and tried very hard to like it. It was an open world game at a time when this feature alone was something special. The colorful, tropical, South American setting was cool too, when so many other games were brown colored military shooters.

I think I deleted and re-installed it eight times. I just couldn't believe that there was nothing for me to like in this game. It was a patched re-release, but everything felt unfinished.

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